Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Lights

Why do we buy them, put them up, pay to electrify them and then take them down again?  What's in it for us?

I love living in a community filled with decorations and lights.  Every year we enjoy driving around to see the lights and we want to be a part of it.   We want to contribute, and to be noticed too.

This year we took almost forty kids from our youth group to see the Christmas lights at our temple.  There are over 500,000 lights!  500,000!  Can you imagine having to put those lights up?  I am so thankful for the people that take the time each year to place each and every light on the temple grounds.  It is beautiful and worth the trip.  There are also nightly musical performances, international exhibits and a life-sized outdoor nativity.  The real Christmas spirit is felt as soon as you enter the parking lot.

Shawn with Wayne and Cory...three teenage boys actually letting me take their picture! Wow!

Cory was less excited about getting a picture taken with his mom.  Becky had to hold him in place for a few seconds while I snapped this shot.
That's okay.  We didn't even get a picture with Shawn...Sign me up for the Mother-of-the-Year Award!

These pictures don't do the lights justice.  They are amazing in person. The lights sparkling against the dark winter sky are a symbol of warmth and friendship.  They bring people of all walks of life together at a time when our hearts are full.  To truly enjoy the season, one needs to be engaged in selfless service.  I am grateful for the selfless service of those who lovingly placed all of these lights in their place.  All 500,000 of them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

I did it!

I love finding that perfect Christmas gift.  Sometimes I have to go out in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday.  Sometimes I have to look and look (and look).  Sometimes I'm not even looking for it and just stumble across it.  And sometimes I have to make it.

This year my favorite gift to give was homemade...sort of.

My sister, Kerry, was remodeling her living room/dining room area and she wanted a new table.  She wanted one that was smaller than the mammoth antique cherry table they were currently letting reside in the middle of the dining room.  He got an eviction notice and had to be out by Christmas Eve.  I wasn't sure exactly what she was looking for, but I mentioned that I bought a table at a yard sale over the summer that I could refinish (remember this make over) for her if that's what she wanted. I had already sanded the top and started to prime the base.  Here's what it looked like at that moment.

Kerry said she would love to buy that table from me.  So we talked about stain colors and base colors.  She decided she wanted the base white and the stain a little lighter than the stain on my first table.

**Let me insert here that this conversation took place on Thanksgiving, giving me a month to get it done because she wanted it for her annual Christmas Eve party**

So I painted the base and resanded the top.

Notice that it was dark outside.  Hope my neighbors didn't mind the noise after 9:00 :)

The first coat of stain is always my favorite.  It's at that point that the table really starts to take shape for me.  So I lovingly added that coat of stain around 10:00 one night.  It was quite a sight, I'm sure.  It was cold (we even had a few snow flurries earlier that evening) so I was bundled up with sweatshirts, a coat and gloves.  Sorry I don't have a picture of that babe for you!  But I do have pictures of my table after one coat of stain...

Lovely isn't it???  I almost had a heart attack!  You know how aliens create crop circles...I think they create stain madness as well.  Seriously...I didn't have time for this.  After some research, I think I figured it out.  Remember those few snow flurries I mentioned?  Well, I think the moisture caused the strange blotchy outcome.


I sanded it AGAIN (two rounds with 60 grit, 2 rounds with 100 grit and 2 rounds with 150 grit).

I was very nervous about putting stain on it again.  I didn't know what I would do if those "hidden" marks were still there.

Not bad, huh?  Then I stressed about how many coats of stain to put on.  I put three on my first table so I was originally thinking two for this one.  But I really liked the color after one coat.  I decided to leave it with just one.  It was time for polycrylic and polyurethane. I wanted the table to be durable so I added three coats of each.

I kept Kerry informed on all of the problems that I was having.  We had several days of rain.  Rodney and I moved the table in and out of the house about three times in the last week.  I knew she wanted it for Saturday night, so I told her I would try to have it done.  I also knew she had to work Saturday morning.  I made arrangements to take it to her house while she was at work, so that she would be surprised when she got home.

She was!

I love the little glass knobs on the drawers.  I found them at an antique store and thought they would be perfect.

Merry Christmas Sis!

Friday, December 9, 2011


You all know that Shawn loves, soccer, skiing, hunting, backyard football, kickball, volleyball...really if it's a sport, he'll play. But there is something else that defines who he is as well.  He is a Boy Scout.  He probably won't come right out and tell you that, but he works very hard to accomplish things in Boy Scouts.  Wednesday he had a Court of Honor.  Not his first one by any means, but one that really made me start thinking about who he is.
He served as MC for the evening.  Shawn did not inherit my love-to-be-in-front-of-a-crowd genes and would much rather sit in the background than talk in front of a group of people.  But he did it.  And he did a great job.

He earned four merit badges - three of which are required ones.  I knew he was getting me, we do our fair share of merit badge earning as parents.  But as I pondered the hard work that goes into each of these, I realized what a hard worker Shawn really is.  Don't get me wrong.  There were times when we had to fuss with him about completing a merit badge task, but I guess that's what parents are for.  He earned Shotgun Shooting (are you surprised?), Citizenship in the Nation, Family Life and Personal Fitness.  All of these merit badges require research, commitment and actively participating in a related activity.  Way to go Buddy!

In Boy Scouts there are different "ranks"  or advancements.  With each rank advancement the boy earns his badge and the mother receives a pin.  For all of you that don't follow Boy Scouts, ranks are as follows: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and Eagle.  Of course every boy's goal is to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Award.  But the road to Eagle Scout is not easy.

I am proud to say that Shawn, at 13 years old, is well on his way to earning his Eagle Scout.  Wednesday night, Shawn earned and received his Life advancement.  I hadn't really thought about it before, but as he was pinning my Life pin on me, I realized that the next time he pins an award on me, it will be the Eagle Award.

He will be embarrassed that I posted this picture, but I don't care (it's my blog, not his)!  I am SO proud of him. 

Here is my "Mother's Pride" necklace that I bought while Shawn was a Cub Scout.  There's just something about an eight year old boy pinning a pin on his mother's shirt that frightens me...this option seemed a little safer.  Plus, I love having all of my pins together and wearing them to all of the banquets.

Yes, I know...I am missing the Tenderfoot pin.  But no worries - this proud mamma will get her a new one!
I love this Life pin.  It's the prettiest one yet!  But most of all, I love my Boy Scout.
May we always remember the things in life that define us for who we really are.